Meanwhile on the Eastern Front...Panzer Tactics offers players a huge arsenal of unit types to command – there are well over one hundred spread between the German, Soviet and Western armies. Much like in Advance Wars, each unit is countered by another. For instance, artillery trumps infantry and bombers lay waste to most land vehicles. Where Panzer Tactics separates itself (and becomes much more complex) is the way in which terrain can alter these formulas. While terrain played a role in Advance Wars, its effects are more central to Panzer Tactics' gameplay: infantry engaging a group of tanks out in the open are bound to get run over; but if that same encounter happens in an urban setting, the tables turn. As much as the game compels the player to press forward and speedily complete their mission objectives, a methodical approach is also required as one takes into account the lay of the land.
It wouldn't be Panzer Tactics
if there weren't...Panzers.Maps and terrain types are highly varied. The first few missions in the German campaign will have players crisscrossing the hemisphere from Norway to North Africa. New units and game mechanics are introduced gradually as each campaign progresses, although taking advantage of these will require some experimentation on the player's part – the information doled out mid-mission is often too vague to be of any real use, so only through trial and error will a unit's true power be revealed. Besides new vehicle and infantry types, players will also unlock commanders which can be attached to specific units, thus enhancing their efficiency.
Sadly, the same complexity which makes Panzer Tactics feel so fresh is also responsible for most if its problems. Although the game makes good use of the DS platform's stylus controls, menu navigation can be cumbersome and is bound to confuse some players. Most will find themselves learning more from their mistakes than the game's tutorials, a number of which are presented a bit too late to be of much use. This wouldn't be such a big problem if units weren't persistent from one mission to the next – there's nothing worse than losing a leveled-up Tiger column because you weren't familiar with a recently introduced play mechanic.
Despite its faults, Panzer Tactics is bound to delight hardcore turn-based strategy fans. Calling this game "big" would be the understatement of the year – I'd invested more than twenty hours and still hadn't completed the first of its three campaigns. Provided you're willing to invest the time needed to learn the game's mechanics and interface, Panzer Tactics may dominate your DS for quite some time. At the very least, it should satiate the armchair generals until Advance Wars: Days of Ruin ships at the end of next month.